Friday, January 27

City Circle: Why Islam needs a feminist movement Click for more info

Why Islam needs a feminist movement, Professor Tariq Ramadan

Resuming CC's regular weekly lectures after the end of year break (albeit unusually on a Thursday this week), Tariq Ramadan talked about how bad women have it and how Islam needs to change in order to restore their rights and well being. Not that I'm trying to trivialise the issue, but for most there (the biggest ever turnout for a CC as far as I'm aware and further the majority, women) it was all pretty obvious. Or at least, it should have been - only some men, when asked, actually agreed that an effort was required to fix some things. Hmm.

So yes, I guess at times we need a good eloquent speaker to remind us and that's exactly what Ramadan did last night. In brief, he told us that we needed to be more vocal about the crime and discrimination demonstrated toward women under than name of Islam. He calls this vocalisation "Islamic Feminism". He also mentioned the need to be self critical and to see how some of our Islamic principles are based on either a literal or cultural interpretation of the Quran (although note that he didn't say that these were inherently bad things).

What he didn't talk about was the issue of control and limits of reformation. Whether it's the rights of women or a more general Islam we're reforming, when should we stop? Is it when all Muslims become happy? When blood is no longer spilled? When women stop complaining? All of these will take time (if ever in the last case) to eradicate, and even then will not be a guarantee of us being on the right path.

Every week I hear of something new under the name of Islam, whether it's Muslims calling themselves gay, or Amina Wadud leading a mixed congregation. Tomorrow it could be the first Muslim brewery, or a trend for Muslim women to become lingerie models. Now, I'm sure everyone has their own opinion on whether these things are halal or haram, right or wrong, but whatever we decide they are is not the point here. What is is that they are all, as far as I'm aware, unprecedented.

Perhaps Islam is continually meant to evolve in this way, I don't know. And I didn't get to ask, the chair instead choosing more inane questions to be put forward to Ramadan. And no, I ain't hating. Much. But is there really a need to ask Ramadan (or anyone) whether they think Mukhtar Mai received justice or if a rape victim should have to marry her rapist? And then you have the questions that no one else understands but the one putting them forward, perhaps in an attempt to show how smart they are. Someone yesterday even referred to Ramadan's grandfather. Impressive. Anyway, rant over.

This was my first Ramadan lecture and very much enjoyed it was. I think it's the first of a series of lectures by Ramadan at The CC, so if you missed it there may be another chance to attend. I'm not sure whether he'll be continuing with the same topic or moving on to another, but I'd still recommend checking him out anyway.